Removing Liquids, Laptops Could Be a Thing of the Past with New TSA Scanners

July 30, 2018 Updated: August 2, 2018    

Removing laptops and liquids from carry-on baggage could be a thing of the past if scanners that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is testing become widespread.

The computed tomography (CT) scanners it is trialing can show images in 3-D, reducing the need for baggage checks and having items removed from baggage during screening, the agency said on July 30.

TSA says security workers will be able to zoom in on items in the bag as well as rotate the bag along three different axes for a better view of the bag’s contents. Currently, the scanners being used in U.S. airports show images in 2-D. The CT scanners, which are similar to those used in medicine, also have an algorithm that helps them detect explosives.

“TSA is committed in getting the best technology to enhance security and improve the screening experience. Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske in a statement. “By leveraging strong partnerships with industry, we are able to deploy new technology quickly and see an immediate improvement in security effectiveness.”

The scanners were installed at two airports last year, one at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and another at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Another was set to be trialed at JFK airport by the end of July. TSA is now working on putting in another 15 around the country and plans to have another 40 in airports by the end of the year. By October 2019, it plans to deploy another 145.

The location of the 15 that are currently being installed are:

  • Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Houston Hobby Airport (HOU)
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • Oakland International Airport (OAK)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)

The scanners come with a big price tag though. The Washington Examiner reports each machine costs over $350,000. The TSA told the paper it is working with companies on pricing and models.